In another post, I mentioned some of the problematic aspects of the labels
“temporary” and “permanent” with regard to spousal
Temporary Spousal Support is support that a spouse may be able to obtain from another higher earning
spouse, between the time a
petition for dissolution of marriage is filed (a request for divorce) and the time a final judgment
is entered in the case. Such arrangements are usually established in a
settlement agreement (a stipulated order) or an order of the
court. Temporary Spousal Support can also be obtained while an action for legal
separation is pending.
Permanent Spousal Support is an award for support of the lower earning spouse, either by stipulated
judgment or by final judgment following trial.
The terminology is problematic, because “permanent” spousal
support is often not permanent and “temporary” spousal support
can in some cases drag on for years.
Generally speaking, "Temporary Spousal Support" starts when a
spouse voluntarily starts to pay it pending trial, or is ordered to do
so by the court. When there is an
order for Temporary Spousal Support, this obligation ends by the issuance of a judgment, a dismissal of the
case, or expiration of its own terms as provided in the existing order
In practice, Temporary Spousal Support usually ends when settlement has
been reached as to the entire case (a stipulated judgment), or a upon
the entry of judgment following a trial.
An order of Temporary Spousal Support may be modified in court at any time,
without a showing of a change in circumstances. [Sande v. Sande (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 324, 329]. However, in practice, usually a party
will not bring, and a judge will not grant a modification of a prior order
for spousal support without a change in circumstances, as this would simply
be nothing more than a motion for reconsideration, or in effect an appeal,
of the court's prior court order.
A common mistake, one even made by attorneys citing a point of law, is
that an order for Temporary Spousal Support may only be made to date back
(retroactive) to the date the motion to set spousal support was first
filed. In actuality, the court may make an order for spousal support retroactive
to the date the petition for dissolution (i.e. divorce) was first filed
in court, so long as that petition includes a request for spousal support
which attorneys often include at any event as standard practice [In Re
Marriage of Dick (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 144, 165]. Thus, whenever making
an initial request for spousal support, you should alert your attorney
of this authority in order to obtain maximum support.